Are you a cold weather masochist?!
With the clocks going back, the evenings closing in, our minds turn to winter warmers, hot soups and evenings by the fire. There’s no denying it, the winter climate can dampen our motivation to get outside and train. Generally it’s not the cold that stops us from throwing off that cosy duvet cover and venturing out; it’s the elements that come with it- the snow, black ice, hail, sleet, rain and the wind. If you’re in the northern hemisphere, it’s the dark, too, that can put you off!
Here are a few tips to get you going!
1. Start gently.
Let your muscles warm up gently. This might mean adding a few minutes to your workout, but it’s worth it. You could even warm up inside beforehand – run up and down the stairs or use a skipping rope in the garden.
2. Run with a friend.
The best motivation! It’s so much easier to motivate yourself … and each other!
3. Warm up quickly afterwards.
Staying in your damp workout kit after exercise is a great way to catch a cold! Your core body temperature starts to drop as soon as you stop, so either get home quickly or, if you’re off to a cafe with your running, cycling or workout buddies afterwards, take a change of clothes, get out of your damp sports bra if you are a woman, and get a hot drink down you – hot chocolate is a great post workout recovery drink – or some nice warming porridge!
4. Go high-vis!
With limited daylight, chances are you’ll be out in the dark. Wear reflective, fluorescent kit. You could go festive if you like with a head torch or flashing belt light. You’ll be able to see where you’re going, and more importantly, be seen!
5. Kit yourself out…
A great excuse to get some new gear! Wear good socks and shoes, and treat yourself to some good kit. If you’re running or cycling, wear layers of technical fabric to wick away sweat. Headbands and little caps are great too. If it’s teaming with rain, then a peak cap in technical material keeps the rain away from your face and your head warm. Take some gloves, but make sure you have a pocket, as you’ll likely have to take them off when you warm up.
6. Don’t forget to drink
Hydration is just as important in winter as it is in summer. You might even sweat more because you are wearing more clothes.
7. Avoid the ice, or get some crampons!
If it is icy you are better off leaving the bike at home and running off-road, on soft grass. If you slip over, you’ll have a softer landing than on the road too! I do believe that you can get crampons which attach to your running shoes and enable you to run in the snow, but I haven’t tried these myself …
8. Finish with the wind behind you!
If you are running or biking in high winds, it’s a great idea to start out into the wind and finish with it behind you. This makes sense in theory, but in practice it often feels that whichever direction you head is into the wind!
9. Avoid early mornings and late nights
Sounds obvious, but this is when it will be icier and darker…If it is really icy, you might be better off going to the gym for a few sessions instead.
10. Eat soup!
Soup is brilliant training food for the winter months. Packed with antioxidants, warming and comforting, it will help stave off the bugs and help you recover better after runs. I like to make up a large batch of soup on a Sunday to keep me going throughout the week. Try this yummy Sweet Potato Soup.